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Manoel de Oliveira
Cécile Sanz de Alba,
Luís Miguel Cintra
Icelandic films are rare in South Africa, and I was lucky to see this film twice at a Film Festival almost ten years ago. Since then I couldn't track down a copy, but it has remained my favourite movie.
The main character, a young girl with a mild form of epilepsy, a well-developed imagination and the apparent gift of clairvoyance, has to make sense of her life on the Icelandic coast in 1936. Her father is rarely home because he is in the fishing fleet and her family (mother, grandparents and their adopted son) live a simple life, dominated by their Lutheran beliefs. Her "uncle" tells her medieval Icelandic legends, which she enacts in her imagination. The film focuses on the different realities that she experiences, and the creative way in which she makes them almost magical.
The "medieval" scene in which her "father" returns and brings her glasses to improve her eyesight is one of the most powerful film moments I have experienced.
The girl and her family are also witnesses to the sinking of a French ship used for a scientific exploration of the northern Antarctic. The striking visuals of the sinking, as well as the impact this occurrence has on the main characters, are also memorable.
After years I am still in awe of this glimpse of the Icelandic film industry. It is an unusual film with a fascinating visual texture and a powerful storyline. Highly recommended.
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